Tiger at an Ohio zoo dies after contracting COVID-19, officials say

Jupiter is the first animal at the Columbus Zoo to succumb to COVID-19.

ByJon Haworth ABC logo
Thursday, June 30, 2022
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A 14-year-old tiger has died from health complications after contracting COVID-19 at an Ohio zoo, officials said.

Jupiter, a 14-year-old Amur tiger, passed away on Sunday after officials at the Columbus Zoo confirmed that he had developed pneumonia which was caused by the COVID-19 virus.

"On Wednesday, June 22, Jupiter was reported by his care team to be acting ill. (He was not interested in eating, and was reluctant to stand, move or interact with keepers.)," the zoo wrote in a statement on social media. "When this continued into the next day, Jupiter was anesthetized for examination and treatment. Initial exams suggested an infection, and treatment was started."

To complicate matters, Jupiter had been dealing with long-term treatment of some chronic underlying illnesses, said the Columbus Zoo, and this made him more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus.

"Unfortunately, Jupiter did not improve with this treatment and remained reluctant to move and eat," officials continued. "The following day, he was given additional treatments and had more diagnostic testing."

Jupiter passed away on Sunday and is the first animal at the Columbus Zoo to succumb to COVID-19, the zoo said.

"Jupiter's care team remembers him as a big and impressive tiger who loved fish, sleeping in the habitat's cave, playing with cardboard boxes, and interacting with another favorite item-a 75-pound firehouse "plus sign" that was heavy for keepers to move but something he carried around like it weighed nothing," said the Columbus Zoo. "His care team also fondly remembers the trust they built with Jupiter over time through training and how he was always very friendly with the female tigers, Mara and Natasha."

Jupiter was born on July 9, 2007, at the Moscow Zoo in Russia but eventually ended up at the Columbus Zoo on March 19, 2015, after spending the first half of his life at the Zoo Dvur Kralove in the north of the Czech Republic.

Jupiter leaves quite a legacy and sired nine cubs during his life -- six of which were born at the Columbus Zoo -- which officials say has contributed to the future of Jupiter's endangered species.

Employees at the Columbus Zoo require their staff working with cats, great apes, otters and wolverines -- among other species -- to wear masks whenever they come within six feet of the animal as a precautionary measure.

Said the zoo: "Jupiter will be greatly missed...Please keep our Asia Quest team in your thoughts."